In question types that are made up of more than one word, such as:

"How old", "How tall", "How long" (WH word + adj.), etc.

Do we consider the whole phrase as one question word? Or in all of them, "How" is the only word which is our question word? I don't know if there are any other types, but if so, it would be great to know what kind of grammar I need to study to know more about this structure...

1 Answer 1


Yes, in terms of sentence structure, "How old" and "What brand of coffee maker" are all considered to be the entire "wh"-word.

It's easy enough to show this by changing the sentences back to statements:

"I am [13]." = I am [how old]. "How old" is the interrogative pronoun that replaces "13", so we move the entire pronoun to the front of the sentence to ask the question.

"I use my [Bodum] most mornings." = I use my [what brand of coffee maker]. Same logic.

Even idiomatic expressions like, "Why/Where/How in the world..." are treated as the whole "wh"-word in terms of word order in wh-questions.

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